Sunday, June 13, 2010

Passages: 100 boats. 100 people. 100 ways to reach the sea

Even the weather listened to organizer's pleas yesterday when 100 invited guests launched 100 wooden boats into the Bow River for their journey to 'Destination Unknown'.

My boat was No. 98. I chose it from a box of wooden crafts hand-carved and etched by artist Peter Von Tiesenhausen. The 100 boats are the foundation of his Passages project in celebration of the Bow River which the City of Calgary is celebrating this summer to explore the idea -- How does the Bow connect us to our landscape and to each other?" For Peter Von Tiesenhausen, it is a statement about the "connections among life and water cycles, stewardship, consciousness and spirit."

Cradled in two hands, the wooden boat was smooth and silky; earthy, of the earth, earth filled. There's a slight smell of burnt wood, the figure on each boat has been charred, the area around it filled in with a mixture of sediments collected by the artist along the Bow River drainage basin, ground and painted in to outline the figure.

In Peter's artist's statement for Passages, he writes:
"One strand of water stretches unbroken from glacier to sea
to join with that which encircles the earth.
Branches increase the flow
others reduce
Tentacles search into the fields and dissipate
Without water there is no wood.
Wood is the tangible residue of life,
A fibre of stored sunshine and mineral,
Fire is both life and purification,
the figure, both birth and death.
Full cycles.
One hundred boats released by human hands,
destination unknown,
tiny cargoes of silt
to become
field, fish or sea."

It was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday, under sun, along the river, connected to its flow, feeling its pull as my boat sailed out of my hands to land upon the waters and be carried out of sight.

I don't know where my boat will end up. The hope -- it will be find its way to the Hudson's Bay and return to the flow of life.

For more photos on the day and to see the moment when all 100 of us released our boats simultaneously into the river, visit here.


Maureen said...

How wonderful! I love the concept and the execution, especially because the public got to participate.

We drove out into the Virginia countryside for the opening of an artists' cooperative and brought back home-made blueberry and cherry pies, Virginia honey (for our pooches; helps their allergies), and the best load of rustic bread. J.'s off for an interfaith retreat, so until tomorrow it's I and the "boys" and quiet time to read.

Anonymous said...

oh maureen got pies!!! yum.

peter, the artist is cute.
well...he is.

i like the boats.

Anonymous said...

that sounds more like littering than art!


M.L. Gallagher said...

Not even close Mark! Every boat is biodegradable, and every boat is a work of art. :)

Lol nAncY -- he is cute! Though that is an old pic of him :)

I wonder if Maureen could send a little pie on a boat to me and you?